“Twelve Articles” of Tsar Sophia – the law of the Moscow state, published on April 7, 1685 by Princess Sophia, consisting of 12 articles, which defines various degrees of punishment for Old Believers (“splitters”, as they are named in the document) and their accomplices: starting from death executions in the form of burning living people in a log house (for those who did not give up their beliefs) to torture, imprisonment in monasteries, beating with batogs, deprivation of property.
Based on the document, thousands of Old Believers and Old Believers were executed.
Old Believers are Christians who did not want to be baptized with three fingers instead of two fingers.
Old Believers are Slavs and Aryans who venerated the Russian Gods of Perun, Svarog and others in a multitude and unity.
In the 50s of the 17th century, the Church reform of Patriarch Nikon began, as a result of which the two-fingered or Old Believers were the Cathedral of 1656 and the Great Moscow Cathedral were proclaimed heretics and anathematized. But these measures did not help to achieve the goal of the reform – the transition of the entire population to a new rite, moreover, the Old Believers began to organize their prayer meetings, build chapels, hermitages, monasteries and create numerous settlements around them.
Neither church bans (punishments) nor imprisonment ended the schism. In addition, the Old Believers led a continuous sermon among the population, professing loyalty to the old rite and proclaiming the falsity of the reform.
In 1681-1682, the Moscow local church council on behalf of the bishops, headed by Patriarch Joachim, asks the tsar to use civil courts to punish the Old Believers. But, according to the patriarch, the laws were not strict enough, it was necessary to introduce a penalty for the old rite, which was done in 1685 – torture for dissent and the death penalty – burning of living people in log cabins – were introduced. In accordance with the decision of the Moscow Cathedral of 1681-1682, the voivods, together with local bishops, were engaged in the search for the Old Believers, they sent service people to bring the schismatics to the courts, where they were then tortured and burned alive in log cabins.
In the past, in Summer 7193 from the creation of the world (1685), April, on the 7th day, the Great Sovereigns Kings and Grand Dukes John Alekseevich, Peter Alekseevich of all the Great and Malaya and Beliy Possii autocrats, and their sister, the Great Empress, the righteous Tsarevna Sophia Alekseevna, listening of these articles, they pointed out and the boyar was sentenced: the schismatics henceforth their great sovereigns to mend a decree according to the previous decree of the father of their great sovereigns, the blessed memory of the Great Sovereign Tsar and Grand Duke Alexei Mikhailovich, all the Great and Malaya and White Russia, the autocrat, and by this decree and according to the articles, which are written below this:
1. Who the schismatics of the holy church resist, and blaspheme, and do not go to church and to church singing and to the spiritual fathers for confession, and they do not partake of the holy mysteries, and they do not allow priests with sanctity and church needs into their homes, and between Christians obscene in their own words mend temptation and rebellion, and stand in that theft stubbornly: torture those thieves, from whom they learned this, and for how long, and whom they will speak to and those negotiated people they have and question and give them face-to-face bets, and torture with confrontations; and who, from torture, teach them to stand stubbornly, but they will not bring conquest to the holy church, and such, for such heresy, after interrogation three times at the execution, if they do not obey, burn it in a log house and scatter the ashes.
2. and if they completely lag behind that malice and commune with the holy church with true intention and a clear conscience, and such, according to genuine testimony, to free from the beginnings; and if some of them want to get their hair cut, and tonsure them in the same monasteries; but if they do not want to have their hair cut, but they have no wives and children, and so it is inappropriate to be in the same monasteries until the death of their belly, so that they, leaving those monasteries, do not commit to the adorable in communication and turn to their former anger; and those who have wives and children, and those to bail, so that they do not keep such a charm in the future, and do not know about the schismatics, and do not listen to their teachings, and do not enter their houses, and do not let them in to command them to oversee their spiritual fathers; but if they were in those monasteries, or came out of the monasteries from under the beginning,
3. Who, by the charm of their commoners and their wives and children, led to the fact that they themselves burned themselves: and such thieves, on the search, for their theft, because of their charm people burned, burn themselves.
4. Which people walked through the villages and people who are in perfect years, also their children, who in perfect and small years, baptized and the previous holy baptism was denounced as wrong, and re-baptism was imputed to the truth: and those thieves who baptized, although they bring submission to the Church of God and the spiritual father to receive and will truly desire the holy mysteries, and, having confessed and communing, they will be executed by death without any mercy.
5. And which people went to the schismatics and baptized themselves with them, and bore their baptized children, who in small years and in age, to re-baptize, and the previous holy baptism was imputed to wrong baptism: and to those who were baptized, if they would teach this blame without any objection, mete out punishment, whip and send to the bishops, who belongs to whose diocese, and to repair them according to the rules of the holy apostles and holy fathers; but who do not learn to bring subjugation in that, and in that charm of theirs will stand stubbornly and impute it to the truth, and call the previous holy baptism wrong, and execute those with death.
6. Which people, in church opposition, have perpetrated a long time ago and, by questioning, teach the church of God to bring submission, that they did it from ignorance or from some kind of compulsion, but did not dare to notify, and did not teach others to do this, and in that they will declare their guilt completely and promise with an oath in the future not to do this: and for that to mend the punishment, depending on the fault, and send for correction to the patriarch’s court, and after correction, give them under the flock of their spiritual fathers for bail, and their spiritual fathers watch them firmly, so that they henceforth they came to the church of God, and they did not have a church schism, and they did not know the schismatics, and they did not go to their homes, and they did not let them in, and they did not listen to the teachings of those spitters and blasphemers against the holy church; and bail them in the same.
7. And if they will be agreed upon in schisms, and they will learn to say in question that there is no church opposition behind them, and they go to the Church of God, and they have spiritual fathers: they will also testify about such with their spiritual fathers, and if they are in That the spiritual fathers will cleanse, and those, according to the testimony of the spiritual fathers, should be given to them on bail and instructed to watch over them firmly, so that there would be no church repugnance from them; but if such will appear in schism and will be exposed in that they kept that charm in secret, and in questioning in that they locked themselves in cunning, and so, from those they will not be opposed, they will punish them, whip them and exile them to distant cities.
8. Which people of the schismatics kept and repaired them, knowing about them, and for their lovely teaching, but did not inform, and seeing, they did not catch and did not bring, or they took some bribes from them: and for that to do something cruel punishment, whip and exile to distant cities; but if they knew, they kept the same ecclesiastical opponents in their house, doing mercy to them, or who would learn to come to visit them or bring food or food, or bring some letters from whom by reference, but they themselves did not have that lovely teaching held on and according to the testimony they will be cleansed, and by those, for concealing those thieves, they will punish them, beat them with a whip, and exile others, depending on the case; and those who brought with themselves in no way, and in that, will be cleansed, and thus punish, beat the batogs.
9. From whom the splitters will be taken out, and lived with them with bail, but they did not give them away about the split, and those records will not be written: and on such people they will have a penalty of five rubles per person, and from whom they lived without bail, and on those who have, against tatina and robbery articles, fifty rubles per person; and with whom they lived, although with bail, but they knew about the schism, and did not inform them, and thus punish them, beat them with a whip and exile, and on the lieutenants have a penalty of 50 rubles per person; and on which people will have nothing to take with froth money, so that they are poor people, and those, if they vouched for those splitters in life, not knowing about their split, instead of monetary penalties, they will be exiled to Ukrainian cities, wherever they happen, and who vouched knowing , and those to be exiled to distant cities with severe punishment.
10. Which people for schism will be exiled to the cities, and in those cities the governors and clerk people will order over them in those settlements where they will live, the elders and the fifties, and the tenths, and watch over the neighbors, so that from them church opposition and schism did not have; and if they show up, or secretly learn to hold on to the schism, or the schismatics learn to know, to write to them [that is, to us – ed.] the Great Sovereign, and keep them on guard; and according to their unsubscriptions to those thieves to mend a decree, according to the same specified articles, depending on their deeds, who will happen what.
11. In which people will speak languages in the schism, and those people at that time will hide from the search or will be somewhere away, and a decree will be issued to thieves and schismatics, and those people will appear as themselves or will be found later, and they will learn to lock up in that, but there will be no confrontation with anyone: and such, according to schismatic speeches, they will question and seek out about them by their neighbors and spiritual fathers, and if they are searched for, they will be cleansed, and they, having been examined by the spiritual fathers, will be released on bail; but if they will be denounced in what, and they will be tortured, and according to torture speeches, the decree will be repaired, according to the above articles, what will happen.
12. Among the splitters, who will have courtyards, and estates, and estates, and shops, and other trades and factories, also according to the splitters among the lieutenants who vouched knowingly and will be sent into exile: those of their estates, and estates, and yards, and shops, and trades, and factories to subscribe to the Great Sovereigns and sell at an estimate with a great surplus, so that a considerable number of them go to the wages and messengers for such detectives; and which people vouched for the splitters, not knowing they would split, but will be exiled only for foam money, that they have nothing to pay that money, and to those exiles to sell their households themselves at a free price, to whom they want.
Opinions of academic researchers about the twelve articles and their implications
The document is recorded in the historical registers.
Historian Fedor Evfimievich Melnikov writes about this law:
“These truly draconian-merciless articles and their sadistic execution terrified the entire Russian country. The government mercilessly persecuted people of the old faith: log cabins and bonfires were burning everywhere, hundreds and thousands of innocent victims were burned – tortured Christians, they cut out tongues to people of the old faith for preaching and simply for confessing this faith, chopped off their heads, broke their ribs with pincers, buried alive in the ground neck, wheeled, quartered, drained the veins … Prisons, exiled monasteries, dungeons and other hard labor places were filled with unfortunate sufferers for the holy faith of the ancient Orthodox. The clergy and civil government with devilish cruelty exterminated their own brothers – the Russian people – for their loyalty to the behests and traditions of Holy Russia and the Church of Christ. No one was spared: not only men were killed,
Writer and public figure Alexander Isaevich Solzhenitsyn.
In his message to the Third Council of the Russian Church Abroad in 1974, Solzhenitsin wrote about the repressions against the Old Believers:
“I dare to draw the attention of those gathered to another – a distant, three hundred-year-old sin of our Russian Church, I dare to repeat this word in full sound – a sin, in order to avoid using a more serious sin, in which our Church is – and the entire Orthodox people! – have never repented, and, therefore, the sin that gravitated over us in 1917, gravitates to this day and, according to our faith, could be the cause of God’s punishment over us, the unforgotten cause of the troubles that befell us.
I mean, of course, the Russian Inquisition: the oppression and defeat of the established ancient piety, oppression and reprisals against 12 million of our brothers, fellow believers and compatriots, cruel torture for them, pulling out tongues, tongues, rears, fire and death, deprivation of churches , exile thousands of miles away and far into a foreign land – their, who never rebelled, never raised arms in response, staunch, faithful ancient Orthodox Christians, whom I will not only call schismatics, but even Old Believers I will beware of, for we, the rest , then we will immediately exhibit only new believers. “